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Posted in Book Club, Book Review, Reading Adventures

August Bookshelf

August was my birthday month and I may have gone a little crazy with book gifts for myself *not even sorry*, and the reading wasn’t too shabby though it started with the worst book I have ever rated. And yet another month had passed when I did not bury my head in the plethora of paperbacks I still have on my TBR. Eek … always hoping for next month.

The growing beauty of my office/Sapphic/Indie bookshelf (several more shelves are scattered and filled elsewhere throughout the house).

The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampire’s by Grady Hendrix – ⭐️⭐️ – I wanted to like this book. I wanted to damn well love this book. I didn’t. In fact there were times I almost DNF’d this book. It takes a LOT for me to even consider DNF’ing a book. But, I stuck it out (100% because the narrator was awesome) and it’s not like the book was horrible, just so so frustrating. There is a huge chunk in the middle of the book that I felt was entirely unnecessary and this was the part where I nearly DNF’d. It was also filled with gaslighting the main character by EVERY SINGLE other character. It was then her backing down even though she knew they were doing this. It was the most frustrating thing I’ve read in such a long time and it wasn’t broken up with anything else and it dragged out. Despite this. There were some good things about the book, the writing was ok and the story wasn’t entirely terrible, just so many unnecessary parts for me, and no character was likeable. I do however get pissed off reading things about this book being a fantastic humour horror. There is no humour. If an author tries to highlight the depravity of society they need to make that clear, with exaggerations, with word choices. The author did NONE of this. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t satirical. It was racist, sexist, elitist SHIT. If it weren’t for the narrator I would have DNF’d AND given a single star review.

Ignis by KJ – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – There is so much to love about this book. From the start we are thrown into two worlds, two times. The back and forth is fabulous. When you are in each part you are completely enveloped, almost forgetting about the other time, the other story.
The mysteries are compelling and the writing is delicious.
I adore the main characters and the beautiful balance of dark mystery and these moments that made me smile and sometimes even giggle.
A brilliant read. Highly recommend if you like dark mysteries.

Queerly Beloved: A Love Story Across Genders by Diane and Jacob Anderson-Minshall – I can’t star this book, I don’t know how to. I have rarely read memoirs, and never one that has hit so close to home. Did I enjoy the reading? Yes and no. Some of it was a little repetitive. Did I find it helpful? Yes and no. I felt seen but also had to remind myself of how different me and my OH are to the authors. Do I recommend this book? Yes and no. I think it’s a great educational read, as long as people realise this is two peoples personal experiences in the transgender world. I definitely saw similar situations and fears, thoughts, and doubts. But also some things that I was shocked, because we have not had the same experience. Were there some chapters I could have lived without reading, some experiences they went through that I could have not known so much about? Sure. But I feel like that’s sort of a memoir staple.
Overall, I’m glad I read this book. And I would love to read about more personal accounts of diversity in our beautiful and colourful rainbow community. I did a video review, going in to a little more detail. You can view it here.

Dead Lez Walking by G. Benson – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Omg. I have no idea how G. Benson does it but damn this book gave me all the feels … the mix of dark humour, true fear, devastating sadness, some pretty gruesome scenes, and actual wtf moments. Brilliant book that I chewed through (yep pun totally intended) ridiculously quickly. I adore the authors inclusivity in her books, gender, race, nationality, sexuality. She embraces the true diversity of humans in her stories. And I loved the ensemble cast. Taren freakin cracked me up (her chapter sub headings were freakin snort laughing worthy), and Xin was adorable – even if I may or may not have called the author a monster at one (several) points lol

Under Your Skin by Lee Winter – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – This book was delicious. A sequel to the incredible Red Files. If you like seeing an ice queen melt without changing who they are, this is THE ultimate book. I have such a love for small town settings and this book has it in spades, and the humour … laugh out loud coffee spitting moments, with Lauren’s charming upfront nature and Catherine’s acerbic thoughts and tongue:
* It’s only Chaos if you stop and look at it, the rest of the time it’s just fun.
* About the speed of an asthmatic turtle
Also, hotness rating … cold showers required! 😉

Faith and Fire (Sisters of Battle #1) by James Swallow – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Was surprised how much I enjoyed this. The audio was recommended to me. The narrator was amazing. The writing was surprisingly beautiful, and the story was quite fun and brutal. I thought I would get lost not having played World of Warcraft, but I understood the world enough to keep up with what was happening, and it was quite exciting.

The Roommate Arrangement by Jae – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Third book of the year to make me cry!
I was so frustrated with one of the characters at the start, Jae perfectly captured the frustrations of Ray having to deal with her new roommate. But just as she grew on Ray, Stephanie grew on me as well. A hilarious female the odd-couple book, with ALL the feels. Brilliant writing, fantastic dynamic characters, and a story that flows (and kept this reader up until 1am).

Full English by Rachel Spangler – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Another small town sapphic read .. need I say more? Well, actually yes. I LOVED the dynamics of the characters in this book. Spangler turns the traditional characterisations on their heads and I am all for it! Brilliant themes of breaking the binary and contradictory assumptions of society. I love that the village girl isn’t sweet and virginal and the famous millionaire isn’t suave and sophisticated. The descriptions of the beautiful scenery of the town and the sea were so engulfing, it was a holiday during a time when holidays seem like a distant memory and a not promised future.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 – A perfect classic gothic horror of the time. But, reading it from a modern day perspective, I struggled to love it, though I did like it and enjoy it. I listened to it on audio and the narration lacked several times as the voices for the two female protagonists had the same tones and quirks and it was difficult to follow along as times. I did enjoy the writing, it was often beautiful but the story had me confused at times.

Hush Little Baby by RH Herron – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – *Trigger Warnings for infertility and child abduction. *
Literally could not stop listening to this book. My first book by this author and now I have to read more. The writing is absolutely beautiful, from descriptions of humanity to the earth, to the complicated duality of human nature, to the way the author reaches in and stabs sharpened nails into your heart before ripping it out of your chest.
Not a book I could have read during my long fertility journey, or pregnancy, or even when my child was in their first year of life. But such an incredible story. 

So ten books for August is a pretty good effort. 😀

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen

Posted in Book Review, Reading Adventures

July’s Bookshelf

For the first year ever I thought I’d embark on the insanity of doing not just November’s NaNoWriMo but also Camp NaNo … with that being said, I was very surprised to get as many books read as I did … I also managed to do a few Beta Reads. And no, in case you are wondering … I have not slept this month ;-p

Take note of just how many sequels I read this month … who knew I was such a series addict. Also seriously ridiculous how amazingly brilliant the books for this month were. No bad ones to be seen, not even any luke warm humming or harring ones. So total win month here.

Six Days to Hell by E.L Giles – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Oomph with a one two punch. A virus has caused a world pandemic (feels a little close to home doesn’t it). An anxiety ridden quick read. Follow Garcia on his post apocalyptic countdown with an ache for redemption and a question to the power of the past. A few times the lulls had me drifting a little but they didn’t last long until we head on the run again. I had to know how it ended, as I continued the countdown despite that spider tingle of anxiety. The beautiful language is stark against the horror of a world laid bare. A great dark read.

Dead Man Walking (Nick Holleran #1) by David Green – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Stars – For a second, Hell holds its breath. Dead Man Walking: A Nick Holleran book is a wicked little love child between Sin City and Constantine. The atmosphere reminiscent of the 1950’s PI’s of the past hits from the very start. The world building and side characters that David Green has created makes me already cross my fingers, hoping there is more of the same to come. Humour is mixed with horror and it is tantalisingly weaved throughout the story. When I finished Dead man Walking I felt as though I had been given a small window, or perhaps a fireplace view, of a moment in this world, a moment in Holleran’s life. And oh boy, what a moment it is.

Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #2) by Tamsyn Muir – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – What. The. Actual. F$&@. I loved this book. That much I know. I need recovery time to write up this review, and perhaps another read through. Most important to note … ‘it’s complicated, is all I’m saying.’ Just a few points: I never knew I could love 2nd person, but oh my how I love this and the 2nd person narrator. I love the snarky dialogue, internal and external. And my mind has completely blown, to the point of now rereading Gideon from an entirely new perspective. SO MUCH AWESOMENESS. I took some time and ended up doing an entire reading Vlog of this book … you can find the vid here.

Without a Front: The Producer’s Challenge (Chronicles of Alsea #2) by Fletcher DeLancey – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – I started this book with excitement and heartbreak. I was grieving and couldn’t understand that while I loved the writing and even the story why I was not getting as pulled in … and then it all came together. I was feeling too much exactly how the main character Aldira Tal was feeling. It was writing with such realism in grief and mourning that it was breaking my heart to feel her going through it, and I have never loved Fletcher DeLancey’s writing more. This book took me everywhere, the full spectrum where I felt heavy limbed and lost to laughing out loud, to a damn near a panic attack. The writing is beautiful and the story is so perfectly paced and balanced. What I am so wonderfully surprised and amazed at is how much I want to know more about all of the characters. I love the dynamic and deliciously complicated main characters. But so are the minor ones. I want to know more about all of them, even the ones I would cheer Micah on f he were to go a round or two with them to teach a lesson. What a fantastic second addiction to the Chronicles of Alsea series. I’m so glad I have more to read.

The Devil Walks in Blood (Nick Holleran #2) by David Green – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Stars – Nick Holleran is a smart arsed shmuck and I can’t wait to read more of his adventures.This second instalment has us go deeper into Nick’s life, his acceptance or lack thereof about hell and the realisation he’s still a shmuck who hasn’t quite got it all worked out like he thought. A darker and gritty adventure, with Nick thrown into a shit storm after shit storm. I loved that minor characters from the first book came back to play as well as some intriguing new additions. The overarching story Nick is travelling has my hairs standing to attention and my curiosity well and truly peaked. A great series. I can’t wait for the next instalment

True Nature (Shape-Shifter, #2) by Jae – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – I have never been a huge shifter fan. The idea of finding an animal attractive rankles. I read the first of this series last year and was stunned by how much I enjoyed it. The attraction between the shifter and the human never crossed that line of the animal form itself being part of the attraction. Jae is a mistress of the slow burn and this also makes a difference. So I finally got around to reading True Nature and I love it. Again there was no disturbing animal attraction, the slow burn and human emotions were powerful and real. And the story was brilliant. As frustrating as some of her characters are, I loved it because they were frustrating. They were real and dynamic, prejudiced and stubborn, flawed and trying. This is another great example of a powerful read and magnifying glass in to human relationship, and familial dynamics. The writing is easy and beautiful and I spent two night staying up well past sanity to get this read in two days because I kept wanting to know what happens and couldn’t stop thinking about the characters. What better endorsement can I give really?

Changing the Script by Lee Winter – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Another brilliant piece of art from Lee Winter. The balance of tension and amusement throughout Changing Script is as masterfully crafted as a katana.
An American film director trying to save the worst movie in the world goes up against a Patriotic New Zealand local who she nearly kills on meeting. I mean what could possibly go wrong.
Highlights:
– New Zealand realism in the use of words, familial relationships, culture, and humour
– The sexiest and most realistic flirting scene I have read in a long time
– Characters who are layered without having to have their personality traits jammed over and over at the reader
– Appearances of characters from Breaking Character
– Laugh out loud moments that made me the entertainment of fellow commuters.
This book is so great.
I did suss out the mystery about half way through but because the writing and the way things developed in the story, I still wasn’t 100% convinced I was right until I read the end, and it was well worth the read.

Metaphoria by K.B Elijah – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ When a book starts with “Should I begin with the tale of the cannibalistic peacocks, perhaps?” You know you are in for a ride … but oh man this was a whirly derby ride of hilarity and snarky dialogue and I loved every second of it. The two main characters are fun and unique, easily recognisable from their dialogue, and *french kiss* the chemistry was enjoyable and wonderfully built. Twice I was reminded that this story was mostly dialogue, but I didn’t have time to linger long as I was pulled back into the story. The theme of who is hero and who is villain is delightful, but my oh my did the fourth wall get bashed in with a wrecking ball. It was damn near Brechtian – delicious. My recommendation is to grab a drink and set aside an hour or two because this delicious pocket size read is a one sitting perfect example of escapism and enjoyment.

What a brilliant month of reads. I’m really partial not only to the sequels but to the shorter readers it seems 🙂

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen

Posted in Reading Adventures, Writing Adventures

Everyone Should Write – Yes, I’m Talking To You

It’s a strange concept, or at least it seemed like one to me when I first heard it talked about with some of the amazing authors in the sapphic writers community. But most authors (and I argue all good authors) are readers. They will read more books than they will ever manage to write. If every reader wrote, there would still be more books wanted, more books being read than being written.

But this can sometimes be hard to imagine as the plethora of books and TBR piles and new releases can seem overwhelming at times. And I suppose it also depends on what you write. It’s taken me a long time and I’m still settling into my happiest writers niche. Just to clarify, Sapphic Speculative Fiction is totally my writing jam, but even that has many genres and sub genres beneath this umbrella.

I’m finding there are more out there then I originally thought and this has been so exciting as a reader, and truly terrifying as a writer. It’s worried at the back of my brain. But while reading one of my favourtie sapphic sci-fi authors this morning, I had an epiphany of happiness for the writer in me.

I belong to many different reader groups. There are often multiple recommendation requests a day. I cannot think of a single request that asks for something opposite to what the reader has enjoyed. More often than not the requests going along something like this:

I just finished [insert title and author here] and loved it. I’m looking for more of the same.

Let me just repeat that here: LOOKING FOR MORE OF THE SAME.

That’s right. We readers may not always want the same genre or trope for every single book we read, but often WE DO go back and forth between what we love most. Myself, I will mix up what I read, but then I often go back and revisit the same genres and tropes. They are my favourites for a reason.

Ok, so you’re probably thinking, yes that’s all well and good but how could my writing ever compare to [insert your favourite book in your writing genre]. Here’s a revolutionary concept. It doesn’t have to compare. What you love about a book, another reader might find annoying and the worst part. You will always be your harshest critic with your own writing. That’s why it’s such a great and vital idea to have beta readers, editors, and a plethora of others whose opinion you value and who aren’t afraid to tell you both their loved and not so loved parts.

And no-one, not even yourself, can write the exact same story twice. So, don’t let that snide little negative nelly voice in your head stop you from loving your own stories.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen x

Posted in Australia, Book Review, Reading Adventures

June’s Bookshelf

Midyear and though life is busier and things get crazy from here on – because they have been so calm until now *rolls eyes* – I read 10 books this month.
Reading remains my precious and sacred lifesaver.

My favourites for the month:

The Brutal Truth by Lee Winter – 5 stars. An Aussie in New York, an Ice Queen in Sydney, dying magazines, a bet, and beautiful designer clothes. A great read. I also love learning about worlds I have never and foresee myself never being intimate in, but with this book you feel like you get a real insight. My goal was to make sure I read this before it’s sidequel, The Awkward Truth comes out .. done and done. I also foresee a few more reads between then and now. Lee Winter gives us another wonderful exploration in to human nature, passion, the magazine industry, and ooh I love the theme of ‘bad’ things becoming the best things in your life. And of course, I am head over heels in love with Elena Bartell. There are Ice Queens and then there are Lee Winter’s Ice Queens.

Poppy Jenkins by Clare Ashton – 4.5 stars – Poppy Jenkins was an outstanding and in depth look into everyday lives and how scratching beneath the surface can reveal a rainbow of colours you previously couldn’t fathom. Did I get frustrated while reading this book? yep in all those parts where I was supposed to, I might also have wanted to shake Poppy a few times, but I loved how Clare Ashton showed all sides of the coins for the characters. I adore Rosaline, and I truly love Emma. I also used this book for my first ever Reading Vlog and it was such a fantastic book to do this with. Check out the Vlog here

Spiffing by Tim Mendees – 4 Stars – Spiffing was a fantastic read. While it builds slowly, engulfing you in the every day debauchery of the ensemble cast it soon speeds up and the horror is palatable through the use of humour and curiosity as you want to know what will happen next. I found myself a little confused at the beginning with the multitude of characters but this confusion cleared up as I continued to read. The description, particularly of the more horrific and terrifying moments of Spiffing, is fantastic and tangible. Mendees does himself proud with a fabulous horror short read, highly recommended for a dark and stormy night, just make sure you keep the lights on.

The Miracle Girl by T.B Markinson – 4 Stars. A brilliant start with a miracle girl going back to her home town twenty years after a heartbreaking leave. I got a little lost wondering where it was all go for maybe a chapter or two, and then the book became addictive, with a desire to throttle a few characters. I really like JJ as a character. I am really looking forward to reading the 2nd book in this series.

Sentinel by Drew Starling – 4 stars – A young family move to Bensalem, a small town with the beauty of nature surrounding them, what could possibly go wrong. Sentinel is a slow build up as we learn about the townspeople of this small sleepy town, which is not nearly as sleepy as first impressions give. Once the story speeds up, it drags you along, heart kicking and screaming. An ensemble cast, there were definitely some characters I felt a deeper connection to then others, but I cannot wait to see what they have in store for them in the next installment.

The Enchanted Woods by Enid Blyton – This book will ALWAYS be a 5 for me, for no other reason but for nostalgic purposes. I have such a love for the Magic Faraway Tree series. They were so important and influential to me when I was growing up. Now, listening to it read aloud by Kate Winslet, it’s so adorable and wonderful. She does a marvelous job, though I do cringe every time I hear Frannie – if you understand this, welcome to my age group ;-P

The Thing about Tilly by G Benson – 5 stars – Oh I just adore so much about this book. From the pace that made Tilly’s wanderlust thud inside my own chest, to the diversity and wonderful realness of the characters, to the truly beautiful way Benson describes everything that happens in and around the characters and the story.

Dani by Angelique Jordonna – 3 stars – A great premise, good story, promising writing.
What I liked:
A disturbing story with interesting characters. It reminded me of a lesbian cross between Silence of the Lambs and Dexter, with the authors unique flare shining through.
What missed the mark for me:
The 1st Person present POV was a little difficult to get into and slipped into immediate past a few times. I would have liked to see some more of the scenes as they played out, instead of being told about them after the fact.
Overall a good read. Jordonna definitely has promise and I’m looking forward to seeing more from her.

Irregular heartbeat by Chris Zett – 4.5 Stars – I adored this book. There is nothing quite like the melting of an Ice Queen to make me smile. I really enjoyed the depths and dynamics of the two main characters. Some heartbreaking moments mixed up with some laugh out loud parts. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a bit at the intense coincidences of characters meeting. The writing was delicious and I’m always a fan of pop culture references in contemporary fiction. I really enjoyed this book and will definitely look at reading more of Chris Zett’s work.

The Creeping Void by Tim Mendees – 5 Stars – A short read with everything you could ever want from a post apocalyptic short read. Characters that are brilliantly flawed and trying to find a way to survive. Mendees influences and supplication to the elder gods. Brilliantly timed humour that helps to balance the heart pumping horror and deliciously decrepit descriptions. I can’t give this anything less than a five. Brilliant work.

Hope you all have had a successful first half of the year … I’m on my way to 100 books, and the dragon and unicorn badges for Jae’s Sapphic Reading Challenge.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen

Posted in Publications, Reading Adventures, Writing Adventures

Stumbling Live

I had a small paperback launch for my debut Novella, Cold As Hell. It was cold and windy outside but inside it was wonderful and warm, both the temperature and the support and love I received.

I read out the prologue of Cold As Hell (Stumbling Live over a few points) and made one person actually gasp out loud near the end of the prologue. I felt like fist pumping the air and taking a bow, my work was done. 😀

It really was a lovely afternoon/early evening. I was also blown away by the generosity of the local cafe who hosted the event for me. If you are local to Brisbane/Ipswich or visit anytime, go down and share the love at Forty west Cafe, Ripley. They are a family run business and they are so supportive of the community.

I didn’t end up getting the event filmed, but there were some photos taken. Except for most of the people who came, I’m not good at the practical things AND being in the spot light … it’s one or the other people. In that regard I also need to get the bookmarks I lovingly made (with the help of partner, sister, mother, and nephew) for the event and then subsequently forgot to give out to those wonderful people who came and bought a copy of my book baby.

On that note, I have several bookmarks left over and will be giving them away to first in first served who get a signed paperback copy directly from me. Of course you can buy a digital version here.
But, if you are interested in a signed copy, contact me for a quote 🙂

But without further ado, here are a few of the pickies:

I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have gotten my words out in to the world … now on to my next Novella … bring on the sky pirates and dragons ;-P

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Posted in Life Adventures, Writing Adventures

Why I Write

I haven’t blogged a lot lately, and mostly because I haven’t felt like I have enough ‘content’. My thoughts have begun with a lot of ‘What am I teaching you wonderful readers? I need to do more learning the craft so I can help.’ and it spiral from there. It’s been a stressful thought pattern.

Yesterday I was talking to a friend and fellow author and I just about burst into tears, As we spoke the conversation came around to story telling and how sometimes we forget that’s why we are doing this in the first place. Not to have all the technicalities right, not to know how to market, not to network. Yes, these things are important, but they are often overshadowing my thoughts and peaking my anxiety.

Then last night I had an interview with a publisher (Eerie River Publishing – go check them out) to highlight me as one of their authors for PRIDE month, and some of the questions were an oomph to the chest.

Ok, world. Yes, I get it. Time to remind myself of the roots and reasons.

I have at times forgotten why I write in the first place, so I’ve decided to make a list of the top reasons I write:

To tell stories
To escape – for me and my readers
To represent and minimise isolation
To create the stories I couldn’t find growing up

While learning about writing will always be important to me, I’m not sure any of that knowledge will mean anything if I forget the reasons for why I write in the first place.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen x

Posted in Book Club, Book Review, Reading Adventures

May’s Bookshelf

Another month and another delicious intake of words. Did I get all the books from my TBR shelf for May …. EEEK, no! Did I read other books that weren’t on my TBR … of course n… yeah, I absolutely did. A total of 13 books when I was certain I wouldn’t reach the TBR total of 8 … of course only 3 were from my tbr but that’s hardly the point

My outstanding pics of the month are *drum roll please* (really hard because I want to pick half of them but I was like,it myself as always.)

In Solitude’s Shadow by David Green, And playing the role of herself by K.E Lane, and This is How you Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone.

The Killing Ground by Syd Parker – 3.5 stars – A serial killer is on the loose, a detective and an FBI special agent are on the case. A recipe for so much potential. This book started so strong. Raw and gritty and should definitely carry a CW when debating whether to read it. The writing hooked me in, the crime was hideous and damn I wanted the bastard caught. Then we got more about the two main characters and while the characters have strong potential, this is where I felt the book struggled. I could see what the author was trying to get at with the characters but it was told to us and we never really saw the development and changes. The two main characters also blended together a little for me and I often had remind myself who was who. Overall it was an ok book, not one of my favourites but I did enjoy the gritty darkness of the crime (even if it make me roll my eyes a little and I had guessed the end about half way through.)

Conflict of Interest by Jae – 5 stars – Phenomenal. This book was exceptional. I’m curious to know if it began as a fanfic for Law & Order: SVU, and if so how fantastic. It reminded me of how much I love and miss that show (haven’t watched it for a few years now). The characters are so dynamic and real, and the frustrations and fear were like spiders crawling over my skin during those unknown parts during the main trial in the book. And the sensitivity Jae has used in writing this book is beautiful. It touches on so many real life issues and doesn’t gloss over the impact rape and abuse has on people, not just for a week or two, but for the rest of their lives.

The Cobra Queen by Tara Moss – 4.5 stars – A brilliant addition to the Pandora English Series. Everything in this book is just that little bit more pulling than the previous books in the series. Pandora is really growing into herself and the story line was wonderful and epic. I cannot wait until Tara Moss gets book 5 out. I am very eager to know what happens next. And, I confess I was shocked and a little heart squeezed throughout this book.
There was one particular part where Pandora spoke about grief and I went back many times to listen to it. It was powerful and strong, and felt like it hit on exactly who Pandora was.
I did a booktube review of the Pandora English series (books 1 -4). You can have a look here.

Kismet by T.B Markinson – 4.5 Stars – I freaking adored this book. It was such a delicious book. Easily my favourite Markinson book to date. Both characters are such strong individuals and their layers are wonderfully human and are revealed and threaded through the book so seemlessly and with such wonderful writing. I love how Markinson has such real language in her characters thoughts and words, the language and turn of phrases made this book so easily to devour.

Gretel on her own by Elena Holst – 4 stars – I think this is my absolute favourite retelling of Hansel and Gretel I’ve ever read. Taking place 20 years after the breadcrumbs, the witch, and the fire, we meet Gretel once again. Within a very short time, she is alone and we see her as she tries to find a life, a normal life at the edges of the small town who all know her and her past. Until a stranger comes to town and Gretel remembers what a sweet tooth she has. *chefs kiss*. What I loved most about this book I don’t want to go too much into detail with because it will definitely be a spoiler, but I recommend it. It’s a short dark read and a twisted fairytale where I felt I got represented. Lesbians in fairytales. I am all for more of these. My booktube review for Gretel on her own is up now. Take a look here.

And Playing the Role of Herself by K.E. Lane – 5 stars – Firstly, I freaking loved the freedom of the swearing in this book. Both in the dialogue and in the internal thoughts of the main character. And I LOVE that was only get the one perspective. I may have mentioned this a few times (expect it to be mention more and more). The characters are brilliant, even Liz and her southern attitude and multi layered friendship she has with Caid. I love how Lane has touched on the prejudices we have of others even in our own community. Whether it was intentional or not, for me it really made me feel warmed and a little seen as it shows not just how miscommunications can occur but this assumption of sexuality being an immovable state, and how sex defines ones sexuality. At least that was an extra layer I got out of the book. I loved the writing and the story, and Caidence was just a fantastically wonderful character and I’m so glad the book is from her perspective. I enjoyed Robin as well, but this was by far Caidence’s story.

In Solitude’s Shadow by David Green – 5 stars – (I received an ARC copy – here is my honest review) A Droking Great Read. A true epic fantasy. From the first page you are drawn into a world of races and war. With beautiful writing and tangible descriptions, enveloping you into the story and the intense themes all in one:
* A fever lurked behind the man’s eyes; he’d tasted war, addictive as Octarian spice.
* He reminded Zanna of a fish. One with teeth and a nasty disposition.
* The stench of death hung heavy in the room—rusted iron and voided bowels.
* No details, no faces, just a churning mass of bodies animated by blind panic.
I could go on, but let’s not spoil the read.
I couldn’t stop wondering what would happen next, events unfurling and pushing me along while the layered characters were revealed, all hurting and fighting in their own ways.
And oh my, the rush as we get to the finale, and the finale itself … wow.
If you love dark epic fantasy I can’t recommend this book high enough. And I cannot wait for book 2.
As an added bonus, this book is not only OUT TODAY but I got the opportunity to chat with the author. You can watch the interview here.

A Place Beyond the Storm by David Green – 4 stars – A second David Green all in a row. This one I had been hanging out to read. A short apocalyptic read. And it was brilliant. Living in caves, underground we begin our adventure with Panam from the day of her becoming an official adult, at the age of 14. It’s real and believable … so kind of terrifying in that way.

Hunter’s Way by Gerri Hill – 3.5 Stars – I enjoyed this crime mystery. It had some pretty gritty scenes and some awesome twists and turns. The characters were awesome, but I do have my own personal issue with ice Queen characters who soften to everyone, and in essence feel like they have changed who they are so utterly. I also felt the extreme changes from minor characters to be a little too drastic and unrealistic at times, when the book itself has such real life grittiness to it. My biggest issue was the way the rape was dealt with. It was good to see the character break down a little but her recovery and ability to move on and function sexually and healthily seemed a little too fast and unrealistic. I still enjoyed the book, it definitely has some intense triggering scenes, and I am interested to see more of these characters in the series.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman – 5 Stars – A re-read … except this time I listened to Neil Gaiman himself read it. It was such a wonderful and different experience. Plus it made it easier to see the book and not the movie. I quite like the movie … but they are such different feels and adventures. And the book remains a delicious treat I discovered many years ago now. I love Neil Gaiman’s voice and reading. I did a video review and exploration about my feelings toward the audio.

Next of kin by Jae – 5 stars – just when I thought conflict on interest could not get better, Jae epically proves me wrong with book 2 of the Portland Police Bureau series. Not only do we follow Aiden and Dawn as their lives continue after the dramatic events of book 1, but we get Cadence and Del’s adventures, as well as small sections of a sidequel through memories and flashbacks. It’s another delicious slice into the lives of these incredibly real and dynamic characters.

Change of pace by Jae – 4 stars – a short novella set a little time after Next of Kin. A fun tale about Cadence’s mum as she inadvertently helps some lesbians move house. It was a fun quick read, but I always prefer Jae’s longer stories, as they really let me feast on the dynamics of human nature.

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone – 5 stars. I am in love with this book. I need to get a paper book copy. The amount of highlighted sections I have is phenomenal and I literally had to stop myself highlighting just as many again. This book is my kind of poetry. And you if you are a reader wanting to understand the depth of every line you may get frustrated and feel stupid, I was tempted to at times, until I understood that this book is poetry in prose. The lines I didn’t understand were beautiful and so I took them for what they were. I never once felt like I was lost or confused about the story that is being told around the poetry.
It’s told in a dual alternating 3rd and 1st person perspective. Blue and Red are on opposite sides of the time war and at the start they almost taunt each other, seeing the other as a true adversary worth their own skills. They exchange letters through the most beautiful and unique of ways. And they eventually fall in love. And oh what a love story it is. With wonderful parallels to a Romeo and Juliet story, I love this version with all of my being. There are so many delicious lines and ways these authors let you know where and how in time the characters are without stamping a date at the start of each new chapter. Some of my favourite lines:
* But we’re all deviant in our different ways.
* Adventure works in any strand – it calls to those who care more for living than for their lives.
* Red wrote too much too fast. Her pen had a heart inside, and the nib was a wound in a vein. She stained the page with herself.
* I want to meet you in every place I have loved.
* Blue closes her eyes as she licks colour from her lips obliterates its name even as she coast her tongue with it, listens to the deep velvety green of Garden’s voice.

Keep reading my friends. And tell me, what were your favourite reads this month?

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen x

Posted in Publications, Writing Adventures

The Final Countdown

Just a few days (4) to go until my debut Novella is unleashed in the world. I’m so excited, there is much coffee and jiggling happening. There are also lots of ways you can follow along with new and exciting adventures happening for Cold As Hell:

☀️ Newsletter: – Sign up in the next two days to get a special treat ;-P

☀️ Instagram: – Daily Fun Facts countdown is happening now 😀 (here’s a sneaky from yesterday)

From Instagram Neenauthor

☀️ YouTube: Hyperactive Bookwork – Videos about Cold As Hell, and even a reading 😀 eek!

☀️ Linktree: – for all other ways of keeping track of my adventures

If you want to ensure it lands on your digital reading device as soon as it drops … you can preorder my book baby here.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen x

Posted in Life Adventures

The Squirm in your Guts

Today I was given another reminder of the importance of following your gut, your instincts, whatever it is that makes you balk or cringe back from something. That thing that you can’t pinpoint a justifiable finger to but you know, you simply know you are not comfortable.

As I’ve gotten older (dubiously wiser) I have found myself over and over again trusting that squirm in my guts.

Throughout my life I’ve been told to ignore my feelings; stop being hysterical, you are paranoid, you can’t even way why … and the list goes on, until I started to believe that these things were all just in my head and everyone else was right.

I think we are not nearly so different, so evolve away from our instincts if only we allow ourselves to listen to them. I’m not saying that following these instincts will have you avoid all the bad you might encounter in this world, but having followed mine more and more over the years, I have seen bad situations avoided.

I am so glad I have consciously followed my instincts this year, even when it might have been considered socially uncomfortable or harder to go against the stream.

I am so grateful for the trust I’ve given myself.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen xo

Posted in Publications, Writing Adventures

Pinch Me

It’s happening. It’s really happening.

After a tumultuous start to the year: authorly, personally, and healthily, things are turning and I’m slowly unfolding myself from the assumed crash position.

When I pulled Cold As Hell from its previous publisher I was so disheartened. I knew it was the right thing to do, for many reasons, but still all my hopes and excitement about getting my own publication out into the world were set alight and left to burn to cinders. I had resigned myself to have it be tucked away in the bottom drawer in my mental filing cabinet.

And yet, here we are. *insert a SQUEE of excitement*

The work that has gone into creating a richer and more dynamic and delicious tale has been well worth the wait.

I can honestly say I am in love with Cold As Hell. I cannot wait to hold it up with pride and a Cheshire grin. and I really hope others enjoy Adie and her adventure and discovery, scratching past the surface of OpenFields.

To get your own copy, preorders can be found here.

Be safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen